This Monday (18th July), the BBC’s CFO, Zarin Patel and its head of employment tax, David Smith, were quizzed about the use of personal service companies (PSC’s) within the corporation by the Commons Public Accounts Committee. It emerged that out of the Beeb’s 467 presenters, 148 broadcasters, i.e. nearly a third, were being paid via PSC’s. These 148 are not unique, however, as the BBC engages 25,000 freelancers.
This has been under discussion for a while and back in 2010 Accountingweb reported
Amongst those appearing as freelancers are: Jeremy Paxman (earning about £1m a year); Fiona Bruce (with annual earnings of around £500,000); and Fearne Cotton (who rakes in around £200,000 per annum)*.
However, not all presenters have fled the broadcaster’s payroll, with the likes of Huw Edwards (Ten O’Clock News presenter); Nick Robinson (political editor) and Evan Davis (presenter of the Today programme) still prepared to suffer good old fashioned PAYE.
It is hard to see on the face of it why a TV presenter would not be an employee based on:
- Personal Service/Subsititution
- Mutuality of Obligation
- Financial Risk
A BBC spokesman stated that the corporation provides HMRC with a detailed annual report of all payments made to PSC’s.
In response HMRC has now announced that it will increase its investigations into PSC’s. After admitting that HMRC had only enquired into 23 PSC’s, the department’s chief, Lin Homer, vowed to increase such investigations ‘ten-fold’ over the next year.